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Full text of "A history of Persia"

THE AWAKENING OF PERSIA        483
To-day all this^ is changed. In 1898 a Belgian
official was placed in charge of the custom-houses of
Kermanshah and Tabriz. So successful was he, that
gradually all the custom-houses (with the sole exception
of Mohamera) were placed under his control, and by 1901
he was able to show an increase of 50 per cent in the
customs receipts of Persia. As this revenue was almost
the only available asset on which loans could be raised, the
extravagant Shah was quick to appreciate the services of
M. Naus, who was made a Minister and granted an
enormous salary. The customs are still in the hands of
the Belgians and are well managed by an able body of men
with some Persian experience.
The New Customs Tariff.—When the Shah applied to
Russia for a second loan, it was stipulated that there
should be a revision of the Russo-Persian Treaty and an
increase in the general tariff. It was easy for Russia to'
gain the consent of the Shah to an arrangement by which
he was to gain a larger income and at the same time in-
crease the value of the customs as a security for future
loans. The tariff was drawn up by M. Naus in conjunc-
tion with a Russian official, and so well was the secret
kept for more than a year that the Belgian was able to re-
move the only obstacle in the way of the new agreement
This was the Treaty of Erzeroum j but with some con-
cessions to offer on behalf of Persia, and with strong
backing from Russia, the Belgian negotiator accomplished
his mission with complete success. The commercial con-
vention was signed in November 1901, and in December
1902, the ratifications of the Russo-Persian Convention
were duly exchanged ; but the secret was kept until
February 1903, when its conclusion was publicly
announced,
An Analysis of the New Tariff.—The publication of
the new tariff was received with enthusiasm in Russia and
with consternation by British merchants. It was framed
entirely in the interests of Russia and against those of
Great Britain, and constituted a notable diplomatic triumph
for the northern power. Among the principal imports
into Persia from Russia are petroleum and sugar. The